Women Entrepreneurs of the Bronx Can Now Capitalize on New Resources To Fuel Growth

Women Entrepreneurs of the Bronx Can Now Capitalize on New Resources To Fuel Growth

Photo Credit: Rosa Garcia

Women Entrepreneurs of the Bronx Are Ready to Capitalize on New Resources for Growth

BRONX, NEW YORK Rosa Garcia is one woman who has found success in the Bronx, running her well-known eatery, Mott Haven Bar and Grill. The classic gastropub with international flavor inspiration opened its doors in 2013. In addition to creating a local “meeting place” she wants to create a hub for empowerment in her neighborhood. Garcia organizes learning sessions for women and spurs food drives. Garcia also owns and runs Mott Haven on the Go, a new food truck that offers healthy and organic food options to residents of the Bronx.

She says her road to entrepreneurship was filled with a mix of luck and grit. In 2012 Hurricane Sandy left the historic Bruckner Bar and Grill establishment inoperable. Garcia was the manager of the establishment and saw the challenge as an opportunity to become the owner. In 2013 Garcia successfully reopened the doors of the now Mott Haven Bar and Grill as its sole owner.
The Bronx has long had a reputation for producing vibrant women leaders. Take Anne Hutchinson (1591-1643). Her name should sound familiar, considering the multitude of landmarks named in her honor, including the Hutchinson River Parkway. She was one of the first known women to swim against the current, resolute in her convictions for independent thinking and amassing a following she led to the Bronx.  

Four hundred years later, New York City leads the nation in the number of women entrepreneurs establishing businesses within their neighborhoods. The most recent assessment of the economic impact reported on by the Center for an Urban Future, reveals 190,000 people are employed in these businesses, working together to generate upwards of $50 billion in revenue. This assessment also shows that in the decade from 2002 to 2012, the number of women-owned businesses grew by 65 percent, adding more than 56,000 jobs and $3 billion in payroll to the city’s economy. While the entrepreneurship gender gap continues, steady gains have been achieved in the amount of women-owned businesses that are thriving. Four out of every 10 businesses in the United States are now women-owned according to analysis in the State of Women-Owned Businesses Report. While data support a steady gain in the overall prevalence of women entrepreneurs, there is work to be done to increase these numbers further. 

Many organizations have been created in the last few decades, dedicated to advancing women’s stake in the business world. These programs and foundations recognize that women-run businesses achieving success help the economic security of the community overall, and uplift countless families as a ripple effect of their singular establishment. One such initiative out of NYC’s Department of Small Businesses is WE NYC, an organization “dedicated to helping women start and grow their businesses.       

WE NYC started with relevant research: surveying 1,500 women entrepreneurs in the city to determine the real issues and specific challenges they face in achieving their business goals. Armed with this information, services focusing on 4 key areas of business development were created: connecting women with the right resources; creating workshops teaching specific business skill sets; providing access to funding needed to grow needed capital, and assisting women to navigate the complex legal system to ensure protection for the businesses they’ve worked so hard to create. 

Other centers in the Bronx are working hard to bring the vision of advocating for women-led startups to fruition. 

  • The Bronx Women’s Business Resource Center maintains a partnership with city, state and federal agencies, and is, therefore, able to provide a wide range of individualized services—offered in three languages— that include workshops, tutorials, webinars and one-on-one coaching.
  • The Bronx Business Incubator is an 11,000 sq. foot space dedicated to supporting freelancers of all kinds through the provision of local services as well as providing a physical professional space offered in month-to-month leases in which to work out of.
  •  Credit Inc./South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation (SOBRO) is a certified institution offering financial and marketing support for small businesses.
  • Businesses looking to increase their business networks can find assistance from the Greater Hunts Point Chamber of Commerce, who work to bridge connections between local businesses and those that are looking for their services.
  • Awesome Women Entrepreneurs is one organization that promotes the social support that is vital for women in business to have, recognizing the importance of having a community where one can “talk, shop and laugh.”  

In addition to these organizations, many others supporting women-backed businesses can be found in the directory compiled by the NY Public Library.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

One woman who can speak about the advantages of the resources offered to women entrepreneurs is Ana Lavda. Ana Lavda is the president of AAL Construction, a civil site company based in the Bronx. When speaking about her transition from physical therapist to business owner, Lavda sites M/WBE (Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise) as an instrumental factor. The City of New York Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (M/WBE) is a program offering minority and women entrepreneurs access to government contracts to grow their businesses. According to Lavda “Women in this city—they’re willing to put themselves out there and start businesses. They go to classes to learn how to do something different. Many of them are raising two or three kids, some on their own. They’re saying, ‘There’s got to be a better way. What can I do to help other women?’ You need women to say, ‘If I can do it, you can do it.’Being a M/WBE can give them the know how to do that.”  

Photo Credit: Johneris Nin

The Women’s Business Ownership Act of 1988 was introduced by John LaFalce a former congressman from the state of New York.   This act was created to address the needs of women entrepreneurs by recognizing the significant role they play in our nation’s economy. Although this bill was signed into law in 1988 women still face many challenges in launching businesses. One woman entrepreneur who faced some challenges is Johneris Nin.

Nin is the owner of Rose’s Mama Bakes. She immigrated from the Dominican Republic to start a career in acting and as life happens started a family. With her newborn child she brainstormed new career paths. “I taught myself how to bake, so I could work from home and provide for my daughter.” Nin runs her bake shop out of her Bronx apartment. As Nin runs her business on her own she is left with little time for new business development. Despite these challenges, she has many clients from word-of-mouth promotions and social media.

Photo Credit: Mott Haven Bar Official Website

As for Garcia of Mott Haven, although she was not able to take advantage of the resources offered by the numerous organizations to women entrepreneurs of the Bronx, she is happy they are available to the future generations of women entrepreneurs. Garcia believes that other than a lack of resources, there were other factors holding women back. She believes many “women feel guilty, especially if they are mothers, we also share our visions with people who talk us out of it.” To help women entrepreneurs in her community, Garcia hosts the Mott Haven Pop Up Shop event showcasing new entrepreneurs and their products. “I know how hard it is to sell merchandise when you don’t have a storefront.” In 2017, Garcia won the American Entrepreneurship Award in recognition for all that she has done for her community.

Documentarian Behind ‘Badass Librarians of Timbuktu’ On How She Transforms An Idea Into Film

Photo Credit: Harry Montas – Bronx Documentary Center NEW YORK – From producing, directing and handling a camera, this successful Somali-American, award-winning filmmaker is making headlines. Idil Ibrahim has worked on and produced film projects that have gone on to

Unleash Your Inner Entrepreneur at the NYU Leslie eLab

Photo credit:  Judi Polanco 

Students filled the Leslie eLab at New York University’s Entrepreneurial Institute on October 24 to learn the answer to one question: what does it take to get accepted to the Startup Sprint intensive program for entrepreneurs?

Rebecca Silver, associate director, held the Startup Sprint Information session for the two-week intensive program offered to aspiring entrepreneur teams as they launch their startups.

Frank Barish Horowitz, who founded five companies during his time as a student of New York University, has benefited from the program.  “The connections and mentorship offered is priceless according to Horowitz.  “I’ve met my mentor, Kyle Bergan, and countless partners exclusively here.” Horowitz’s suggestion to students interested in becoming entrepreneurs to “take advantage of the resources offered at the institute now!”

As part of the selection process, entrepreneur teams are encouraged to apply to this two-week intensive program to learn about how to launch a venture while being offered expert startup coaching, funding, training and community support to help build a business.  A few of the qualifications needed to participate include having teams of two or more and making sure that, at minimum, one of the co-founders must be a student, faculty or researcher from New York University. Female or under-represented founders are highly encouraged to apply.   Selected teams will receive a $1,000 grant, $5,000 in perks in addition to daily coaching and working alongside other startups.

For Emily Long, founder of PivoTtag, going through the startup experience was the best decision she made for her company.   “As founder, it pushed me to get out of the building and actually talk to people that I otherwise would not have done.” Emily highly recommends it to everyone.  “It’s one of those things you won’t regret!”

75% of startups fail to return investors’ capital, while 42% fail because there is lack of market need, according to Silver. The startup training assists in increasing the chances for a startup to succeed by making starting companies less risky.  In the Startup Sprint two-week training, teams will gain experience getting customer feedback before building and launching their ideas.
Startup Sprint trainings are held in the winter, and in the summer, when regular classes are not in session. Silver states that, “even if you don’t get accepted to the program this time, come in for coaching and apply again.” Entrepreneurs have access to one-on-one coaching and numerous programs that will assist in pitching, fundraising and growing a team. Sergel Revzin who is a coach at the entrepreneur institute states one-on-one coaching is an important resource offered. Revzin said that in his experience it has been  “great working with founders! The group is eager to learn and very coachable, applying what they learn immediately.”

Reyna Bhandari, an aspiring entrepreneur with an app idea that will revolutionize the way doctors and patients manage pain, said that she found out about the Leslie eLab during her welcome week tour at NYU. “They offered to work with me and help me find a team to develop the app.” Her advice to aspiring entrepreneurs who need help developing a business idea is to ask themselves “what is something that you have heard other people complain about more often than not? Pause, think about it again, approach it from another angle, and voila, you might have an innovative idea to improve the lives of others. Modern-day society, especially NYC, promotes a culture thriving on convenience, accuracy, reliability. People are always looking for newer, better, faster. So, think about an idea, whether the effect is minuscule or magnitude, and use the Leslie eLab to see if it has the potential to make a difference.”

The Leslie eLab located at 16 Washington Place is available to aspiring NYU entrepreneurs across all NYU’s schools. The facility can be used as a co-working space for meetings and events of developing startups at all stages. No startup experience necessary. NYU students, faculties and researchers are encouraged to visit.  

Resources on The Rise for Women Entrepreneurs of The Bronx

Resources on The Rise for Women Entrepreneurs of The Bronx

Photo Credit: Rosa Garcia

Resources on The Rise for Women Entrepreneurs of The Bronx

BRONX, NEW YORK – Rosa Garcia is one woman who has found success in the Bronx, running her well known eatery, Mott Haven Bar and Grill. In addition to creating a welcoming “meeting place” atmosphere within the restaurant, her ambition to make positive change in her neighborhood is apparent.

The Bronx is mostly known for being the home of Yankee stadium. It is the poorest urban community in the country. Women owned businesses however, are on the rise and contributing tremendously to the economic growth of the borough. Many organizations have been created to help advance women in business. These programs and foundations recognize that women-run businesses  help the economic security of the community overall. One such initiative out of NYC’s Department of Small Businesses is WE NYC, an organization helping women start and grow businesses.   

WE NYC started with relevant research: surveying 1,500 women entrepreneurs in the city to determine the real issues and specific challenges they face in achieving their business goals. Armed with this information, services focusing on 4 key areas of business development were created: connecting women with the right resources, creating workshops teaching specific business skill sets, providing access to funding needed to grow needed capital, and assisting women to navigate the complex legal system to ensure protection for the businesses they’ve worked so hard to create.   

Other centers in the Bronx are working hard to advocate for women-led startups. The Bronx Women’s Business Resource Center maintains a partnership with city, state and federal agencies, and is, therefore, able to provide a wide range of individualized services. The Bronx Business Incubator is an 11,000 sq. foot space dedicated to supporting freelancers of all kinds through the provision of local services as well as providing a physical professional space. Credit Inc./South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation (SOBRO)is a certified institution offering financial and marketing support for small businesses. Businesses looking to increase their business networks can find assistance from the Greater Hunts Point Chamber of Commerce, who work to bridge connections between local businesses and those that are looking for their services.

Awesome Women Entrepreneurs is one organization that promotes the social support that is vital for women in business to have, recognizing the importance of having a community where one can “talk shop and laugh.” Similarly, the National Association of Women Business Owners is a virtual platform helping women “to develop key skills and learn strategies to help take their business to the next level.”

Garcia states that what keeps women from becoming entrepreneurs is the fact that “women feel guilty, especially if they are mothers, we also share our visions with people who talk us out of it.” Furthermore, Garcia explains that,  as a women, rather than speaking to someone about business plansshe suggests to “make moves in silence and show the results, not everybody sees your vision.”  

Resources for women who plan to start their own business In the Bronx are on the rise.   

How a Family Tragedy Sparked My Fascination With a Mental Health Book

How a Family Tragedy Sparked My Fascination With a Mental Health Book

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

My great-grandfather committed suicide in his late 20’s because he struggled to provide for his four children.

My grandfather was only four years old in 1928 and had to grow up fatherless. When I got to high school I read my grandfather’s memoir that included details about the horrific day, including quotes from my great grandmother. I asked my grandfather about his father and his mental health, but he seemed to be too upset about the topic and the idea that his dad may have had a pre-existing mental illness.  

Then I started school at John Jay College of Criminal Justice where I took a forensic psychology course that introduced me to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The manual fascinated me. I found it intriguing that mental health clinicians can refer to this booklet of criteria and symptoms, and simply flip through its pages to diagnose someone with a mental illness. 

The DSM is published by the American Psychiatric Association and covers all categories of mental health disorders for adults and children. In 2013 the latest version was released: DSM-5. 

As I was able to lay my hands on the DSM pocketbook version; I have carried it in my bag for over ten years. Carrying a DSM without being a mental health clinician may be a bit odd. However, growing up in an environment where discussing mental illness was taboo encouraged me to do so.

DSM contains descriptions, symptoms, and other criteria for diagnosing mental disorders. This does not include treatment. DSM has been periodically reviewed and revised since it was first published in 1952. Many new mental health disorders have been added or deleted from the book through the years. Homosexuality was once listed as a mental health disorder and has been removed from the DSM. 

Today, licensed professionals still rely on it in their daily work. Gisell Perez, a Behavioral Health Therapist at St. John Episcopal Hospital in Queens, uses DSM-5 to assess all of her adult and pediatric patients. According to Gisell “The DSM-5 is what assists me in beginning to understand the enigma of symptoms impacting a patient’s life.” The DSM lists criteria for diagnosing psychotic disorders, mood disorders, personality disorders, and others.

The most fascinating fact is for each disorder, there is a list of specific symptoms and behaviors that must be present in order for the illness to be diagnosed. 

For example, for depression the DSM-5 has the following diagnostic criteria: The individual must be experiencing five or more symptoms from the following list during the same two-week period, and at least one of the symptoms should be either depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure.

Here is DSM’s list of symptoms required for a diagnosis:

  1.  Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day. 
  2. Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
  3. Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
  4. A slowing down of thought and a reduction of physical movement (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
  5. Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
  6. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
  7. Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.
    Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.

While I continue to carry the DSM book in my bag, mental health clinicians advise against purchasing this book in hopes of diagnosing yourself or others. Instead, anyone with questions should reach out to a professional for help. Today, there are social services available to people of all socio-economic backgrounds, resources that I wish had been available to my great grandfather.


What is the DSM-5? from Judi P on Vimeo.